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Clash of the Titans: Champions Trophy 2017

Editor's note: Just hours before the culmination of the 2017 Champions Trophy, Kashyap Sanjeeve Mangathaya, of Grade 10 GPS-International, writes a thorough, yet captivating pre-game analysis. This is the inaugural article in a series of sports articles, called "Extra Time".

As the Champions Trophy draws to a close, it is indeed time to ponder the events of the past fortnight where we have seen some incredible cricket being showcased by all teams. The summit clash between India and Pakistan as always, promises like any other encounter to be a fiercely competed one.

Pakistan kicked off their campaign with a humiliating defeat to India, but bounced back with wins against Sri Lanka and South Africa. For Sri Lanka, the youngsters spear-headed the campaign, with opener Gunathilaka being in the thick of runs, and South Africa’s Hashim Amla ticking the scoreboard.

Meanwhile, in group B, England clearly showed they were top dog in their backyard, with all-rounder Ben Stokes among their ranks. New Zealand struggled to maintain rhythm, as was the case with Australia. Surprise package Bangladesh, however, shook off their “minnows” tag and picked up results against New Zealand and fought hard against England. Batting stalwart Tamim Iqbal justified his experience, as well as Rahim and Mahmudullah.

India rattled batting attacks with Bhuvneshwar Kumar in great touch, troubling the batsman with his unpredictable swing. Moreover,  a star-studded batting line-up looking in fine touch also seems menacing to all other teams.

Pakistan, on the other hand, possesses strength in its new bowling sensation, Hassan Ali, sporting the same fiery brand of aggressive cricket that the Pakistanis have been remembered for, down the ages. With an energising presence on the field, Pakistan will bank on his skills on Sunday.

New addition Fakhar Zaman has entertained spectators with his fluent strokeplay and lust blows, giving stability to Pakistan at the top of the innings, which has otherwise crumbled under pressure of dot balls. Fakhar helps relieve tension at the other end with his impressive strike rate.


From the Indian dugout, a message to the players would be to not let emotions get the better of the players. Indian bowlers must get the short ball into play early, if they intend to break Fakhar’s shackles and also get the better of Azhar Ali’s defence. Pakistani batsmen have looked vulnerable against the spin balls when the run-rate begins to deplete and they start looking for the boundary instead. A few tight middle overs from Ashwin and Jadeja could get the batsman on the back-foot, and Kohli may be tempted to re-introduce Kedar Jadhav occasionally into the attack. The final pitch is likely to assist the seamers with the new ball, and potentially getting Jasprit Bumrah into action, offering grip and rough would be the ideal solution.

Hassan Ali will be at the helm of the Pakistani attack going into the game as slight underdogs, and the pitch should favour his conditions. During the early part of the game, Hassan can be introduced to control Dhawan’s strike rate, by bowling into the left hander and giving little room, on a good length. The young spinners in the middle overs must work on and maintain a solid start provided by bowlers, as India’s middle-order powerhouse will prove to be an invincible force to reckon with. Drying up the runs for Dhoni, Hardik Pandya and Yuvraj will be key to restricting India to a sub-300 score.

In the light of cricket interest, we are all glad to witness the PAK-IND final in an ICC event for 10 years, and the game will not only gain a massive audience globally but also be an aspiring advert for ODI cricket in the age of the modern game.

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